It has been several weeks since posting anything on Elijah. I will finish up with this post and one more following.
As you recall the ministry of Elijah was as a prophet of fire. It seems that the fire of the LORD was upon his life. He heard God. He spoke what God commanded him to speak; without fear or favor; and was not intimidated by kings or princes. You might say he was a bit intimidated by an evil queen; shown by his running for his life, rather than by confronting her.
After Elijah ran from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-3) he is told by God to anoint Hazel king over Syria, and Jehu king of Israel; and lastly to anoint Elisha prophet “…In thy room.” Meaning of course; to take the place of Elijah. The ministry of Elijah may have been cut short due to his fear and running from the evil queen.
Let’s look a little at the man whom Elijah anointed in his stead. Elisha was plowing with a dozen yoke of oxen. He was probably in charge of his father’s field; and himself had command over one yoke in particular; but was the leader of 11 [eleven] other yoke. There was a total of 24 head of oxen, and at least twelve men, including Elisha. It is quite clear that Elisha was a farmer and evidently a fairly well to do one at that with twelve yoke of oxen; and hired servants.
“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, ‘Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.’ And he said unto him, ‘Go back again: for what have I done to thee?’ And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.” 1 Kings 19:19-21 (KJV)
First of all Elijah would have known that his ministry was nearing an end. Second, he would have known that the word of God would continue to be proclaimed. Third, this was probably God’s way of showing Elijah that he was not the only one who could or would preach the word.
Notice some things about Elisha. First of all he was busy doing the work of his life’s training – he was busy at laboring. Secondly, he recognized the messenger of God’s word and was willing to leave all for God’s sake and for God’s glory. Third, he was showing responsibility in “burning the bridges” behind him to show his commitment to the service of Elijah and the LORD. In the sacrifice of the oxen, he committed himself to the LORD’s work, and following the life of the prophet of God. In short Elisha did what needed to be done, and he did it with the haste that was necessary.
May the God of all glory and power get the Christian of the 21st century to be committed to serve the LORD with such devotion and diligence.
-Tim A Blankenship